Maine is home to more than 300 documented spider species, some of which appear menacing and unusually large in size for arachnid specimens that are native to the far northeast. Whether a person is an arachnophobe or not, it seems likely that just about anyone would, at the very least, become startled upon finding, say, a large and hairy wolf spider crawling about within his/her shower, shoe or bed. The commonly uttered claim that spiders, no matter their size and appearance, are harmless, and most likely more afraid of humans than the other way around, often works to make most people feel less frightened and defensive around spider species. However, arachnophobia is one of the most common phobias, as 40 percent of all phobias are related to insects and spiders, with the latter being far more common, at least this is the claim put forth by the American Psychiatric Association.

According to Dr. David Prescott of Acadia Hospital in Bangor, it is likely that a majority of people fear certain types of spiders to some degree, especially when their presence within a home is not expected, but medical professionals regard a “fear” and a “phobia” as two very different and distinct emotional reactions. Prescott claims that 1 out of every 10 people meet the diagnosis of a phobia, but this ten percent of phobia sufferers experience their overt fear as a source of extreme discomfort that negatively impacts their quality of life.

According to Kathy Murray, an entomologist with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, there does not exist a single spider species that is native to Maine that produces venom that could be potentially fatal. Murray claims that some people have become appreciative of indoor spider webs, as they indicate that spiders are hard at work preying upon and killing significant arthropod pest species that may establish an indoor infestation that could be costly, and possibly damaging.

Luckily, both Prescott and Murray agree that any phobia, including arachnophobia, can be treated successfully with therapy, specifically exposure therapy. This sort of therapy aims to gradually lessen an arachnophobe’s fear of spiders by having them face their fear directly in order to learn that spiders, despite their otherworldly appearance, pose no threat to humans. For example, when arachnophobes encounter an indoor spider, they should do their best to relocate the harmless creature outdoors on their own, as opposed to smashing the specimen, or calling upon someone else to remove the arachnid intruder. For those with a paralyzing fear of spiders, experts recommend clearing their homes of all other types of insect pests that attract spiders into homes in the first place. Murray and Prescott claim that the easiest way to prevent spiders and their webs from becoming established indoors is to remove as many indoor insects as possible with a vacuum before sealing foundation cracks and other openings that provide arthropod pests with indoor access.

Have you ever made an effort to track down as many insect and spider species as you can within your home?